A chance meeting led to a new professional direction for Devan Lane, College of Communication and Information’s new director of career development. Lane had experience in sales and marketing but had learned what she really wanted to do was connect job seekers with information to aid in their hunt. That’s when she ran into a career counselor on the rooftop of her gym in Chicago who inspired her to research what it would take for her to become someone who helps others discover their own career paths.
Lane has gathered a wealth of experience in her field after she earned her master’s and education specialist degree in counseling and human systems, specializing in career counseling, from Florida State University. It was there where she researched, studied, and practiced the career theory developed by FSU’s program, and she’s applied it in several capacities since.
She started out in higher education at Jacksonville University, rebranding a centralized career development office, and then at the University of South Florida, where she led employer relations initiatives. Then she worked for a Department of Defense Contractor, Zeiders Enterprise, leading a national team of 40 career coaches in supporting career development for active duty military spouses.
She wanted to get back to higher education and the job at CCI excited her for many reasons; not only could she help the next generation plan their careers, she could do so at scale through college-level programming. “The fact there’s someone like me in the college is uncommon,” Lane said. “As a first-generation college student, I really believe that education can change your life. Creating opportunities for students to figure out how to make their dreams reality is where the fun is for me.”
Lane spent her first few months at CCI creating relationships with employers and listening to what students want and need in their career advising. She has already filled up the fall semester calendar with a variety of events aimed at creating opportunities for students and employers to engage with each other. Here’s a preview of what she has planned:
- Employer Spotlights: This almost-weekly event is a chance for students to meet employers in a casual environment in CCI’s Scripps Convergence Lab. Just about every Tuesday, an employer will set up in the lab and there will be open hours for students to drop in and learn more about the employer. Leading up to each spotlight will be a social media campaign to educate students about the employer.
- Industry Networking Nights: These events will give students a better idea of what they can do with a degree from CCI, and information about various career pathways in the field of communication and information. Alumni and recent interns will share their experiences, and employers will be available to discuss open internships and full-time jobs. Recent alumni are also invited to attend these events. Right now, one networking night is planned that will speak to CCI majors broadly and a second night is planned for Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations majors. Lane hopes to plan additional events with specific focuses, such as sports, media, entertainment and information sciences.
- CCI Career Fair: This career fair will focus solely on jobs and internships for CCI students, which Lane said was something she heard a lot when she conducted focus groups with students. Large career fairs can be overwhelming, so the CCI Career Fair will help students to zero in and engage with specific employers in their field.
- Targeted events: As the career development program grows, Lane wants to create as many opportunities as possible for students to learn more about what they can do with their degree. She also wants to create opportunities for them to learn about presenting their best selves. So events such as a Tombras School portfolio day and a Tennessee Athletics media relations career panel are just some of the additional offerings planned for this fall.
In addition to events, Lane wants to continue growing industry relevant career development support for students, such as drop-in hours for students to get resume help, find internships, and job search. She also wants students to have a chance to talk with each other about their experiences with internships, and to share their best practices for career preparedness.
“It’s been fun to get to know the Knoxville market and how students can engage, there’s a lot here at UT, and we’re making sure we maximize our UT family locally and beyond,” she said.